Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson

J.C. Carleson. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014. Ebook.
Rating: OMG

Complimentary e-galley provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


"My brother is the King of Nowhere. 
    This fact doesn't matter to anyone except my family--a rapidly shrinking circle of people who Used to Be."

Whoa! One word...hooked. From the first sentence, I knew this story was going to take me for a ride. On the heels of completing Finding the Dragon Lady, I began The Tyrant's Daughter.* Though both stories are different, they are yet the same—inextricably linked by an unbreakable bond created by the United States government's interference in their country's dynamic; thus, changing their lives forever. Instead of the bygone era of Indochina, I am transported to a small, present-day Middle Eastern country torn apart by civil war.

After her father is killed in a coup, Laila along with her mother and brother, flee their country taking asylum in the United States. Managing the strange customs combined with the overwhelming nature of American abundance, Laila deems high school too much to tackle alone. Assigned Emily, the International Students Club President as a student guide, Laila soon finds herself debunking Emily's royalty fairy tale thoughts of her life. For while in exile, Laila must reconcile her personal relationship and knowledge of her father with that of the outside world. "The truth is more Shakespearean tragedy than fairy tale, though. Upon his death, an emperor's sons vie for power, only to destroy everything around them and pass their bloody quarrel on to the next generation." Slowly adjusting to life in "the land of plenty," Laila experiences a freedom that she has never before known. Refusing to settle for her new social economic status, Laila's mother skillfully plots to reclaim what she believes rightfully belongs to her family, undermining the new life Laila has built in the process. 

The Tyrant's Daughter is a coming of age tale wrapped in political intrigue. As much as I tried to anticipate the next cunning ploy, the story shifted entangling me further into the web of international politics. At the end of the book, I wanted to know more of Laila's story. What would the next phase of her life be like? Would it resemble the past, a conservative version of her present, or something else entirely? Carleson perfectly matches the tension to the pace of the novel, gripping readers as the story unfolds. The short chapters will keep the most reluctant reader interested. I highly recommend The Tyrant's Daughter as a great addition to all high school and classroom libraries. 

Favorite Quotes

"I thought I was drowning here at times. But I wasn't. I was changing. In the moment, they feel the same. Equally traumatic. Equally permanent. But these breathless, underwater months here have cleansed us, I think. Left us less singed than when we arrived."

"I like my classes, with their lessons so different from those at home. World history is reinvented here--the same stories retold upside down."

*Note: I read both Finding the Dragon Lady and The Tyrant's Daughter this past February, but have just recently posted the reviews.

**All quotes taken from ARC e-galley and were checked against the published book.

Click the link to purchase The Tyrant's Daughter

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